Small is beautiful for email signature blocks

Friday February 21st, 2014, 8:31 am

A recurrent question with clients has been how much information to include in your email signature block (from company logos and awards to the full postal address).

Recently I received an email where the logos and awards included in the signature block amounted to nearly 35KB which was more than both the content and the attached Word file. Three emails like this and that’s a third of a MB of unwanted storage space. I diligently deleted all the offending images in order to keep my inbox slim. Overweight email signature blocks are one of my pet peeves!

What constitutes good email etiquette for an email signature block?  We are all looking to create a professional image which makes our email stand out in an ever crowded inbox. Including logos in an email means that you can:

Signed contract close up

• Impress clients with your awards;

• Reinforce your brand logo.

 However, the downsides are that such images:

• Add to the size of the email and hence take up more storage space.

• Mean the email takes longer to download (as its bigger than it needs to be and not everyone has access to superfast broadband).

• Are often seen as spam and cause important emails to be trapped and quarantined.

• Not always rendered properly and can look naff (given the range of devices people use to read their email).

The other aspect of the email signature block is how much information to include.  My other pet peeve is an email where the contact information is longer than the message itself.  One 11 line email had a 23 line block as the sign off (person’s title full contact details etc) and it is on every email entry. How to annoy the recipient very quickly.

Always include as a minimum a contact phone number. After three rounds of email ping-pong, the other person might want to phone you. They too are time poor and if they cannot see a phone number quickly and easily, they will default to email which is often unproductive for everyone (and especially if building a new relationship is involved).

Conversely, not everyone needs all your contact details ie address, fax, mobile etc. So don’t clutter up the email with unnecessary verbiage. Be selective. As default, use the minimum (ie name and phone number) and only insert your full details when asked.

Small is beautiful for email and is the best form of email etiquette. This means the minimum of size and content. A good website, not an email is the place to project your corporate image, company values etc and full postal address.

For more on corporate email etiquette and especially how to close an email see previous blogs and of course ‘Brilliant Email’.  If you still have any questions and need help, call us and ask about our Brilliant Email masterclasses.

What is your pet peeve?


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2 responses to “Small is beautiful for email signature blocks”

  1. Anne Brown-Robins says:

    Am I wrong in believing an email should include all the company’s contact info because it constitutes a formal business communication – as would a letterhead? Company’s Act an’ all that.

  2. Dave Glanville says:

    You are right, Anne, ltd companies and llps must include their registered name, number, address and place of registration. It must be in legible text so a link is not sufficient. Various organisations such as charities, financial services, housing associations, etc must also include additional regulatory information.

    Disclaimers and confidentiality notices can get silly, though, and, as far as I am aware, their isn’t any legal authority for them. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, I just think they should be kept it to a minimum.

    Personally, I have used Mimecast for email filtering, etc and this allows me to add the footer only once (as do most systems so any organisation doing otherwise needs to sort this out), and also give recipients an “opt-out”link so they don’t get images any more. This can be totally self-managed by the recipient – click a link to opt out, click another to opt back in. It does create a little overhead, having to manage two sets of footer, and marketing guys may object, but a happy customer who feels in control wins the argument for me. However, I have never seen more than 1or 2 people a year opt-out! I would guess they completely blank any footer so don’t realise they have a choice!